Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Design of Cooking

We all have to eat and I love to eat. I also love to cook and watch cooking shows. As I work in the design field I have started to realize cooking and design are very much alike.

One of my favorite cooking shows is Iron Chef America. The challenger and the iron chef are given a secret ingredient they must feature in their cuisine for the night and have an hour to prepare at least five dishes from start to finish. The chefs have a vast array of ingredients to add to the main one and skills to help bring out the flavors. When the time is up they have to stop and present their creations to the judges. As with art the tasting tends to be subjective. Some stuff may not work at all but usually it is a mere 5 points or so separating the winner from the loser.

Designers work in a similar fashion. We are given a secret ingredient from a client and a limited time to work on the project. We have our skills and other extras we can bring to the table to make the design work. The solutions to the design problem are many but ultimately it is up to the client to chose which design they like the best and which will work for their company.

Another show I enjoy is Chef Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. Chef Ramsey goes to a restaurant that is failing and tries to help the owner turn it around. Many times the chef of the restaurant is very good and has the best ingredients but is stuck in a rut or trying to do things that are above the clientèle's tastes. Chef Ramsey comes in and gives them a reality check and helps them get back to what made them good to start with.

Many times we as designers are the same as the restaurants. We are good at what we do; we have the latest and greatest equipment; and are designing for an audience that is not there. We need a reality check. We need to get back to the basics and make our designs for the audience our client is aiming at. No, it is not always glamorous but it does get you recognized locally and if it is designed well can win awards and give you national recognition. It also allows clients who do have that designer/artist background, who are looking for something different, see your work has a solid and strong base and open up for those "dream jobs."

So use your ingredients to your advantage. Take what you know and work from the basics. Make sure you're not stuck in a rut and if you are step back and see what needs to change. Always design with your audience in mind.